Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

Most Employees Don’t Think They’ll Retire by 65

older couple looking at documents together and punching numbers into a calculator

As scores of research indicate hurdles in employees’ retirement progress, new data reveals another troubling finding: Most employees don’t think they’ll retire at the traditional retirement age.

Roughly 6 in 10 employees (57 percent) at mid- and large-sized U.S. companies are not confident they will be able to retire at the federal retirement age, typically between 65 to 67, according to a survey of 1,500 full-time U.S. workers by Nuveen, a subsidiary of TIAA. And just 3 in 10 employees strongly agree that they are satisfied with their retirement plan.

The findings demonstrate that “there is clearly more work to be done in ensuring that employer benefits, especially retirement plans, effectively meet the needs of diverse employee populations, often with varying priorities,” said Brendan McCarthy, head of retirement investing at Nuveen.

The data is the latest sign of employee concerns over their retirement readiness and preparedness, as well as the latest to indicate that traditional employer-sponsored retirement benefits are not going far enough.

We rounded up more recent news about the state of retirement from SHRM Online.

Employees’ ‘Magic Number’ For Retirement Hits All-Time High, But Savings Lag

Employees think they need much more money to have a comfortable retirement than they did just a few years ago. But they are a long way off from reaching their goal.

U.S. residents’ “magic number” for retirement has surged to an all-time high—rising much faster than the rate of inflation, which currently hovers just above 3 percent, according to new data this week from Northwestern Mutual. On average, U.S. adults now believe they will need $1.46 million to retire comfortably, a 15 percent jump over the $1.27 million reported last year and a whopping 53 percent surge from the $951,000 target they reported in 2020.

By generation, both Generation Z and Millennials expect to need more than $1.6 million to retire comfortably. High-net-worth individuals—those with more than $1 million in investable assets—said they’ll need nearly $4 million.

Although workers acknowledge they need a greater amount of money saved, actually saving for retirement is another story.

The average amount that U.S. adults have saved for retirement is just $88,400, according to Northwestern Mutual’s survey of 4,588 U.S. adults—slightly lower than the $89,300 in 2023 and much lower than the five-year peak of $98,800 in 2021, according to Northwestern Mutual. It also means there is a $1.37 million gap between the average employee’s retirement goal and current savings. Baby Boomers on average have $120,300 saved for retirement, Gen X employees have about $108,600 saved, Millennials have $62,600 and Gen Z has $22,800.

(SHRM Online)

There’s a Gender Gap in Retirement Readiness

Research from the Nationwide Retirement Institute (NRI) reveals a gender disparity in retirement confidence and readiness among current U.S. workplace savers as more women than men report challenges.

NRI’s survey of 1,200 employer-sponsored retirement plan participants found that 1 in 4 women (23 percent) feel they’re “on the wrong track” for retirement, versus 15 percent of men. Additionally, 41 percent of women hold a negative or neutral outlook on their retirement planning, compared to just 29 percent of men. This gender disparity is further demonstrated by the fact that women are less likely than men to have reached key savings milestones such as saving enough for an emergency fund or adjusting their retirement investment allocations.

Although women are participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans alongside their male counterparts, they’re “facing a variety of challenges that can make navigating their retirement journey more complex," said Cathy Marasco, leader of protected retirement for Nationwide Retirement Solutions.

(SHRM Online)

Some Signs of Progress

Despite some negative news about retirement savings, a recent Bank of America report found some positive news regarding retirement—perhaps an early sign that employees are beginning to feel more confident about their retirement savings. Bank of America (BoA) found that 401(k) account balances rose 15 percent year-over-year to an average of $86,280 in 2023 (up from $75,045 at the end of 2022), while health savings accounts balances rose 11 percent in 2023 to an average of $4,380 (up from $3,930 in 2022).

Higher contributions from employees were among the main reasons for the increases.

Nearly 18 percent of 401(k) plan participants increased their contribution rates last quarter in particular, up from just over 9 percent who did so in the third quarter of 2023. The average 401(k) contribution rate in the fourth quarter was 6.5 percent, up slightly from the 6.4 percent average at the end of the fourth quarter in 2022.

Meanwhile, 37 percent of health savings account holders contributed more than they withdrew in 2023.

The BoA report may indicate that economic pressures are turning around, said Lisa Margeson, managing director of retirement research and insights at BoA.

“We’re currently seeing positive broader economic signs, such as inflation steadily declining and the job market accelerating, so we’re hopeful this report is an early signal that Americans are also feeling more confident about their retirement savings,” she said. “With more employees increasing their 401(k) contribution rates, this data suggests we could be making a positive turn.”

(SHRM Online)


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.